Australia has had comparatively few human casualties from Covid but the financial impact has been immense. The loss of international cellar door trade plus the tariffs imposed by China – as an indirect result of the pandemic – have been keenly felt. Add to this the bushfires and floods and you understand why the Australian Grape and Wine Authority says as many as 30% of the country’s 2,600 wineries could go under. Justin Keay talks to three family-run wine estates to see how they are faring and what they are doing to plan for an uncertain future in the week when Wine Australia launches its new CONNECT digital platform to help bring its producers closer together with wine buyers around the world.
Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc is the wild garlic of the wine world. So says La Trompette’s head sommelier Donald Edwards who argues that both seem to be ‘one-note’ products that offer far more diversity than at first appears, and are only limited by how we approach them. Always one to take a new angle on wine, food and often radical wine pairings, we reproduce here another instalment of Donald’s excellent blog that looks at that most prolific of wild, free food – wild garlic.
Canned wine is a genuinely exciting new format and the predictions are that this will be the year when finally there is a real breakthrough. It raises a number of issues against bottles, however: sustainability, parity of quality, image, role in restaurants and format size in general. So what has Mike Turner learned from 12 months of selling canned wines to consumers?
It feels like just a few weeks ago that wine journalist Chris Wilson proposed setting up a new winery, Gutter & Stars, and suggested a monthly feature so that The Buyer could follow its progress. And already his first wine, ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ Bacchus 2020, is bottled and up for sale. In addition, Wilson has linked up with an urban brewer, making beer out of the fermented skins and is already thinking about this year’s harvest.
Remember the time when you had ‘heard’ of Facebook or Twitter but did not really know what they were about? Only to find a few weeks later you were spending countless hours on both. Well if you have not heard of the new social media phenomenon Clubhouse you have now. The only snag is you need to be invited to join. How anti-social is that? Stevie Kim, managing director of VinItaly, is one of the many 100s of wine and drinks industry professionals who are being ‘invited’ and joining Clubhouse by the day. Here’s her take on what you will find when your invitation does come…
As a trained sommelier Raul Diaz has many years of experience working directly with customers and chefs to draw up a mental list of which sort of dishes go with each major grape variety. A list he has now turned into a book, Wine & Recipes by Raul Diaz, that is aimed both at the drinks trade and consumers. Here in the first of a new series he shares the principles of food and wine pairing and highlights which styles of food are best matched with Pinot Noir.
Every time the issue of providing more information on wine labelling comes up, the industry has been quick to knock it back claiming it is not necessary or needed. But considering the level of ingredient data now available on most other products available in supermarkets, Ines Salpico believes time is running out and the sector needs to prepare itself for an effective new transparent labelling strategy or risk alienating a growing consumer base that is demanding more openness.
New employment research has revealed that each of the UK’s top 350 listed companies now have at least one woman on their boards, but if a similar study was done of the country’s top 350 wine businesses would we get anywhere close to that figure? As we mark and celebrate International Women’s Day, wine commentator, Sophia Longhi, who looks to champion women on her Skin & Pulp website, sets out why it is not only right the wine sector takes real positive action on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it would actually make for a stronger, more secure industry as a whole.
Harry Crowther is ideally placed to know what sort of general wine training works for restaurant and bar staff as he has had to manage and provide training for a wide range of teams during his own time working in senior roles in hospitality. He has now developed his own wine training company and programme – Grain to Grape – that is designed to give staff the confidence to understand and sell the wine lists in their outlet, increase average spend per head and have a direct impact on an operator’s bottom line.
When you read this Giles Cooke MW would have hopped and skipped his way out of the hotel room that has been his home for the last 14 days as he escapes from quarantine to finally head to his beloved McLaren Vale to start harvest on the wines that will make up the 2021 vintage for Thistledown Wines. In his final quarantine diary he reflects on the last two weeks and just what being confined to one room has really been like.
Face it, Lockdown has been shit in so many ways, but if you’re a keen cook like La Trompette’s head sommelier Donald Edwards then it has been a rewarding time in the kitchen. Not only has he been experimenting away with cooking food but he’s also been into ‘radical wine pairings’, his new food-and-wine project that is captured on his personal blog. Here we re-post an excellent piece he’s written about that curious root vegetable, salsify.
The end is in sight for Giles Cooke MW as he is about to enter his last weekend in quarantine in a hotel room in Adelaide as he awaits to be released so that he can rush to go and help take part in the vintage and harvest at Thistledown Wines. But meanwhile it is a few more seemingly endless days when one hour blurs into another, the food does not get any better and those remote Spanish lessons are not getting any easier.
“It is clear we are all sick of hierarchical, traditional, old-style (read: pale, male, stale) leaders who haven’t done much for pushing the needle forward for everyone… ‘Rule Breaker’ is a manifesto for how to lead now.” That’s how Jackie Fast introduces her new book that claims any successful business leader needs to be willing to break the rules, rip up the old ways of doing things and truly lead with a spirit that anything is possible and I’m here to help us make change happen.
“My reflection, as an outsider who has struggled hard to find a suitable role in this industry…is it is too white, too male oriented and males who look, act and behave exactly like one another. Where do the rest, a huge chunk of us fit in? We are like little flies trying to find an anchor to rest. And if we do find a spot, we are shooed off.” This is the damning conclusion that Sumita Sarma has felt after eight years trying to make a career in the wine industry. But she is not giving up. Far from it. As she explains in this hard hitting, challenging, deeply personal, but also inspirational article, she is determined to play her part in getting the industry to open up to people of all backgrounds so that it can be proud, rather than ashamed of how diverse and inclusive it is.
There is more than one President who’s hung up his spurs this year – and in the case of Innocente Nardi, he is going out in a blaze of glory. Nardi’s tenure as the president of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG has been an unqualified success: two years ago the Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene hills were declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, controversial pesticide glyphosate has been banned making his region the largest agricultural area in Europe to have banned the use of this product and he has helped the region achieve two record-breaking years in 2019 and 2020 with 92 million bottles produced. Perhaps one of his greatest achievements has also been putting Prosecco Superiore ‘on the map’ – with consumers finally getting the message as to what the difference is between this and Prosecco DOC.
So what have you got up to in the last week? Even in our own national lockdown it would have been more than Giles Cooke MW who remains confined to a hotel room in Adelaide, as he continues his two-week self-isolation just so he can be freed to go and work on the harvest and 2021 vintage for his Thistledown Wines in McLaren Vale. Here he continues his Quarantine Diary covering days five to seven.
“Yes, brewing kombucha in East London in a converted car garage whilst DJs played house music probably meant we were hipsters – but don’t hipsters deserve to live a balanced lifestyle too?” That’s how Adam Vanni and the team behind the kombucha brand, Jarr, believe they have created a hip and happening style of kombucha that takes it out of the health shops, yoga classes and into the hands of those who are looking for a cool alternative to alcohol or sugary soft drinks that they can feel proud to be seen drinking. Here he explains why and how kombucha is tapping into a new insatiable thirst from a new generation of drinkers.
There are many in the wine industry prepared to go to great lengths for the chance to work on a harvest, but few would perhaps go quite as far as Giles Cooke MW. For not only has he flown to Australia in the middle of lockdown, he is now holed up in a hotel room in Adelaide for the next couple of weeks serving his quarantine before he is released to go out and work the harvest on his own wines for Thistledown Wines and Alliance Wine in the McLaren Vale. Here’s the first of the diaries he is planning on writing to help him through his confinement.
The millions of people who took part in Dry January did so for a myriad of reasons, from looking after their health to raising money for charity. But the fact there are now still millions of people now also not drinking in February just because they want to is a statistic the drinks and hospitality sectors need to wake up to. In fact such is the demand for credible, good tasting, non-alcohol drinks and alternatives to major brands, then Dan Hooper, of drinks marketing agency YesMore, believes we soon won’t need a Dry January.
Peter McAtamney might be based in Australia, but he’s got his finger on the pulse of the UK on-trade, particularly the fiercely competitive wine supply chain that supports it, thanks to the succession of reports he produces through his business Wine Business Solutions. Every year he also produces a league table of just how well wine distributors are doing in terms of their overall performance and competitive strategy. A table only those willing to pay for it can access. But here he shares his overall insights into just how well the wine distributor sector is doing, and reveals who is the number one importer in its just released UK Wine On-Premise 2021 report.